Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Recipe's you will hate me for

I have had several things going on lately where I have had to make some yummy treats. I thought I would share two of them with you. Now I warn you... they are both easy and they are both SO GOOD you will probably have a love/hate relationship with them. Neither of them are healthy. Neither of them will assist you in weight loss. But they are lip smackin' GOOD!

Yall know I am insanely picky so they aren't real jazzy foods. But they are good ol' southern comfort foods!

The first one is called crockpot lasagna. Quick. Easy. Good. Sinful.

Crockpot Lasagna:

Ingredients:
1 lb lean ground beef  (I use extra lean)
1 onion, chopped (I leave this out)
1 32 oz jar of your favorite sauce (I use Paul Newman's Marinara)
16 oz of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I use more-I like cheese)
12 ounces lasagna noodles, uncooked
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (I use more-I like cheese)

Directions:
Brown ground beef and onion (optional) in frying pan (I add some garlic salt to this). Add sauce. Cook long enough to get it warm. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Then spoon a layer of meat sauce onto the bottom of the slow cooker. Add a double layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break to fit) and top with cheeses. Repeat with sauce, noodles and cheeses until all are used up, ending with meat sauce. Add as much extra cheese on top as you like. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.


This next recipe is a modern/sweet twist on the cheese ball. It reminds me of the holidays but could definitely be served anytime, anywhere, any season. I promise you...this will be a hit.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

1 pkg. 8oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. brown sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
graham crackers, chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafers or animal crackers.

Beat softened cream cheese, butter, & vanilla until creamy. Slowly add sugars until blended. Stir in chocolate chips (make sure the cream cheese/butter mixture has cooled). Place mixture in a Tupperware of plastic container. Refrigerate for 1 -2 hours then form into a ball. Serve with graham crackers, vanilla wafers or animal crackers.

I made this one time and it didn't form into a ball so I just called it a dip and it tasted just as yummy and looked just as pretty! I served with graham crackers.

Enjoy ladies!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brain Dump

I tried to come up with a different term for this since so many bloggers use it... but no such luck. I don't have the energy (or desire really) to come up with something. So I am on the "brain dump" wagon.

1. Shower. I am planning one kick butt baby shower for my life long best friend. It is a LOT of work but totally worth it. I love planning and executing events and this one is going to be precious. She is having a baby boy but we aren't doing blues or anything "sweet." My friend is very modern and hip so we wanted her shower to be the same. I am making pretty much everything myself so it's a lot of time, but I actually prefer it that way. (Perfectionist much?) Blog to come after the shower on Sept. 18. Here's a little teaser...the invite. We tweaked it a bit because her shower isn't a couples shower...


Photo courtesy of CadencePaige

2. TWO! Addison will turn two in a little over a month. I am in full on party planning mode and it's coming all together. Aubie is our theme. Oct 8 is the day. I am more excited about this party than her 1st because she is so much more aware and boy does she love her some Aubie. She will flip when she sees it all put together. Just a hint...but this is her cake:

Photo courtest of Simply Charming Cakes

3. Beach. Friday morning, Addison and I are taking off to the beach with my parents for a week. Adam is joining us Friday night and will stay until Wednesday. We are excited to get away and relax. And if I am being honest, we are also excited this trip is free.

4. Diapers. I am over them. But Addison is not. We watch, talk and read about Prudence almost daily. She will poopoo or teetee and say, "Poopoo potty." I'm like, "Yeah it's too late now." She will say "Prudence does!" Me: "Yes, BEFORE she goes. Prudence doesn't wear a diaper. Do you want to go sit on the potty"  Her: "No!" She isn't interested, yet wants to talk about it all he time. Maybe these are the beginning stages. Oh my, I hope so.

5. Tanning. So I lived in a tanning bed for oh say, 10 years. Well, not literally lived, but I would stay tan from March til October and that's how I did it. Now that I am about to be 29, I see the damage I have done to my skin and I want to do my best to prevent other damage. So I have been using Jergens Natural Glow. And I look pretty dang tan. I like it because it doesn't streak. It's not orange and it doesn't stink. I put it on every night. I use the one for "Medium to Dark Skin Tones" even though I am actually kinda fair. Works great and best part... it's $8.


Photo courtesy of Jergens website

6. Birthday. Speaking of turning 29...I haven't been too worked up about it until recently. This is my last year in my twenties. I think I really thought I would be in my 20's forever. SAD! Probably won't do anything to exciting (birthdays kind of loose luster when you have kids, and our kids birthday is 3 weeks after my birthday and 2 weeks before Adam's). I have, however, requested a laptop. I have been wanting one for a while now. Mainly for internet browsing, blogging and storing pictures... we shall see.

7. Football. I CAN'T BELIEVE it starts this Saturday. That's insane. It feels like we just won the National Championship in January. I mean wow. But here we go again. New season. New quarterback. I don't expect us to be AWESOME but I don't expect us to suck. It really will be a rebuilding year for Auburn but with our amazing coaching staff, we will be back to full speed in no time. War Eagle!

8. Move. Nothing new to report. Still talking to realtors. Still living in separate cities Mon-Fri It's not ideal, but could be worse. We have an amazing support system that we are beyond blessed and thankful for.

9. Pinterest. It's killing me. My "to do" list (er, Adam's) is growing longer by the day. But it's actually a genius concept and I am thankful to "Ben and the Pinterest Team." If you haven't joined yet. GO. NOW. Request an invite and get started.

10. Fall. I am ready. For the clothes. For the weather. For the decor. For the colors. I'm trying to be patient. This morning when I walked outside and it felt like 70, I might have teared up a little. I love fall so much. To me, it's perfect weather. I'm ready to tackle these projects and see them around my house (all courtesy of Pinterest searches!)

BHG

Woman's Day

Choose To Thrive Blog

Friday, August 19, 2011

Inspired by Pinterest: DIY "Woodsy" Wreath

When I first saw people tweeting and talking about Pinterest, I didn't jump on the bandwagon because honestly, sometimes I get overwhelmed with all these new "online distractions." I was late to join Facebook and Twitter. Like WAY late. So I held off on Pinterest because, quite frankly, I didn't understand it and didn't want another "obsession." (I had been warned).

When I finally gave in... I immediately knew it was definitely going to take up all some of my time. For me, it's a great place to brain dump and store all my ideas. And steal others. HA. GENIUS idea Pinterest peeps. The great thing about this site is you can "pin" all you want that you find on other sites and that you see your friends pinning but the place of origination is always linked to it. So the creator of the outfit, project, decor always gets credit.

I use Pinterest mostly for ideas for my future home(s), children and DIY projects. My husband probably hates it because my "honey do/build" list has gotten pretty long. That's just what he gets for being so handy and a great builder.

I ran across this DIY project on Pinterest and immediately knew I HAD to make it. It looked easy and something straight out of a magazine. And as most of you know, we are on a tight budget so I can't just SHOP and BUY when ever I want to. So this is what I resort to.

The original idea of this wreath came from The Painted Hive. If you have never visited her blog... GO. NOW! It's amazing. One of my new favorites. She inspires me to get my DIY projects in motion. I didn't copy her wreath exactly...I put my own spin on it...but I would have never thought of this if it weren't for Pinterest leading me to her blog. Expect future DIY projects by ME, inspired by The Painted Hive.

I will do my best to give you a play by play of how to, cost, etc.

So first, I took an old Rice Crispy cereal box and cut out a circle (I used a large & small vase as my stencils) to use as my actual wreath.
  


I then spray painted my circle white on both sides. It took 3 coats to cover all the rice crispy cartoonage.


I then walked around my yard for 30 minutes gathering sticks (with Adam's help). I tried to get them of all sizes because I didn't want it to look uniform. Here they are before I painted them.


Once gathered, I used cheap-o Walmart spray paint to change things up a bit. I didn't want them fully spray painted but I did want that "whitewash" look.



I then took the spray painted cardboard and began gluing the sticks (using a hot glue gun), trying to make I lined them up as best as I could.



Here WAS my finished product. I then decided it was WAY too big and I didn't like that you could see so much of the cardboard. So, I broke each stick off to the length I wanted. Then I went out and gathered a bunch of small skinny sticks to go in between the others. I thought this would make it more full.



And it did. I love it. It turned out GREAT. I chose not to spray paint the small sticks. I left them in their natural wood. I love the rustic look of it and it was actually pretty fun to make. I plan to tie a bow on it or put am "M" on it or something to personalize it a little more.

I don't have a clue where I am going to hang it so for now, it's hanging behind our door. I have already been asked to make one for a Silent Auction for around Christmas time.



So let's break down the cost:

Cardboard to use as wreath: FREE (old cereal box)
Sticks: FREE (from yard)
4 cans of spray paint: $4 (cheap o)
Glue sticks: $3 for a bag of 30 sticks

So there ya have it. A very fun DIY. I am in the beginning stages of a big DIY project that Adam and I will be tackling together! I have a feeling these DIY posts will be more frequent. Thanks to Pinterest!

Happy Pinning and Happy Friday!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hey... PEACE, Where did you go?

Two months ago, I wrote a post about moving to Birmingham. When I wrote that post, I was so certain and sure and PEACEFUL about the decision Adam and I made for our family. We prayed about this decision for two weeks. We prayed for God's will to be done. We prayed for guidance. We told God we didn't want to go if it wasn't His will.

At the end of that two weeks... we both felt that God was calling us to Birmingham. We didn't know why or what would happen when we got there... but we felt called ...so we answered. Adam accepted a promotion he was offerred and off he went. I explanied in my previous post about how Addison and I wouldn't be joining him until our house sold. We are now 7 weeks into having our house "for sale by owner" and we've had two phone calls and no showings. This doesn't freak me out as much as it does my husband. He is now living as a little nomad. Staying with friends and family until our situation changes and we are able to buy or rent. Which will not happen until our house sells. And we all know that this market is pure CRAP right now.

I think in my mind I wasn't panicked about moving yet because it felt so far off. Although I knew we would go eventually it seemed unreal to me that we would be uprooting our family and leaving everything that's comfortable to us. Lately I have been thinking about that time...it's coming...and the peace I once had now ceases to exist. It's gone. I don't want to go. I don't want to leave my friends. I don't want to start over. I don't want to find a new church. I want to stay here and be comfortable (And I NEVER thought I would say that. I have been itching to get out of here for years).

I was warned by a friend that Satan would attack me, no matter what decision we made. If we chose NOT to go, he would play the head game of "you should have gone!" But we chose TO GO and now he's playing the head game of "was it the right choice." When I talk and think about moving to Birmingham... my chest gets tight. I feel BAD anxiety over it. And I CHOSE to believe this is Satan toying with me. I remember the peace I once felt about this decision. But that peaceful feeling is slipping away. It's almost gone. Actually, it IS gone. And it's a very VERY scary feeling for me.

I find myself asking these questions:
"How will I ever make friends?" 
"How will we find a new church that we love and loves us like the one we are member's of now?" 
"Will Addison feel like we uprooted her from what she knows?"
"Will my anxiety get the best of me and cause me to suffer?"
"Will we find the right house?"
"Will we regret leaving?"
"How will this affect my marriage?"
"Will it ever feel like HOME?"
"Will I ever feel truly comfortable and accepted there?"

The list goes on and on... but I find some peace in the Word's of my Savior:

Matthew 5:9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

But if I am being honest here, and I am, my flesh takes over and I want to stay comfortable. I don't want to "start over." I don't want to be the "outider" again. Then I read these...

Philippians 4:6-7  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
1 Peter 1:2 "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:  May grace and peace be multiplied to you."
Isaiah 12:2  “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for  the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
Romans 5:1  "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we  have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"

... and I take some comfort in the Word. But I am not perfect. I am fleshly. I am a sinner. I naturally go to this "peaceful-less" place. Some may call me a pesimist, worry wart or negative. It's how my mind is wired. But I assure you, I am lively, I am fun and I love the Lord with all my heart. I have more faith than ever before so I am prepared. I am prepared to fight this battle against Satan. I am armoured with Jesus and God's Word. So each time I feel this anxiety, this loss of peace, I am vowing to read these verses which I have printed and taped in my Erin Condren Life Planner (and I don't go anywhere without that thing) :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Addison's 1st day of school

I will do my best not to cry (not that you would be able to see me anyway) while writing this post.

My baby started to school last week. Thursday to be exact. She is going to a two day program at St Marks Episcopal Church. She will be in school from 8:45 - 11:45 am. I thought this would be a great transition into some structure for her. She turns two in October and besides church and the occasional play date, she's not around other kids much, so Adam and I decided this would be perfect for her. We chose this church because it has a phenomenal reputation, all three of our nephews went there and it's close to our house. Our church does a program like this but our church is 20-25 minutes from our house. This church is 5 minutes.

She is a class with 11 other children. Some of the things she participates in at school are: art, music, reading (well being read to), snack time, outside playtime. Some of the things she will be learning (we hope) are: sharing (she's pretty good at this already), patience, that we don't always get WHAT we want WHEN we want it, minding. She is still developing so many little skills that I as an adult take for granted sometimes. Sometimes I think she should just KNOW these things, but she doesn't. It's my job to teach her. And I definitely do my best but this structure will be great for her.

She LOVES her teacher, "Mif Whipple" (as she calls her). Actually, she loves her so much, when I walk her in... she doesn't even look back. I have to make her give me a kiss. This makes me happy and sad. Happy because we are FINALLY over the "screaming/fit" when I leave her phase. Sad because I selfishly want her to WANT me there.

Her class theme is frogs. Perfect for Addison because she loves green and "fwogs." Once a month the teacher asks each child to bring a snack for the class. Tomorrow is Addison's day and we have something very cute planned. We are kind of limited because there are only certain things you can bring, but we plan to make them look fun and cute and playful and we will be going with the class theme :)

Here are some pictures from her first day. It was a special day. For the first time it made me realize that my baby is no longer a BABY, she is a full blown toddler really growing into being a little girl. I guess I thought she would stay a baby forever. NO. They grow up so so so fast and for some reason, this makes me extra emotional. She's my FIRST child. My ONLY child (right now). My DAUGHTER. We share a very special bond and I am SO very thankful that God chose HER to be my daughter and ME to be her mother. She changed my life and made it more whole. So to see her off to school... well let's just say, it wasn't easy for this emotional mama. But I am very proud of her. She's learning lots and making friends. My little toddler is growin' up...
CHEESE before school

Ok mom, enough with the pics

One more cheese

Adam wasn't home to take pics so a "self portrait" had to do!

At school right before we went into her class.


Walked right in to her class. No looking back.

Playing with the wooden fruit.


LOVES it.


She caught me taking pics and gave me a CHEESE




After I picked her up and came back to work, she gave a poose... I about died when she did this!

Note: I made it through with no tears! MIRACLE!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Photoshop Fun

So I got Photoshop Elements 9 a couple of months ago but have been too busy to even try to teach myself to learn anything about it. Well the other night I spend HOURS online trying to find tutorials, articles, or whatever I could to help me learn how to use this software that I so desperately wanted. I just don't want to have to pay a professional photographer every time I want great pictures of Addison. I will still get a pro for milestones and family portraits and such, but I wanted to have some quality every day pictures of her.

My friend Tracy suggested that I get PSE instead of regular Photoshop in order to do what I want to do. I got a great deal on it, so I went ahead and got it. Now it's time to learn. I need to take a few online classes. But there are some great resources online and I am learning little by little. It's going to take a lot of practice for me to even be kinda good but I am trying. I am also going to need about 6 extra hours in the day to do this... please and thank you.

I don't have any great secrets yet, but as I learn then, I promise to share them. I am not trying to be a professional photographer, I just want to be able to take and edit good/quality pictures of my friends and family. Mostly Addison and my future children. If you have any great resources, book suggestions of anything that you think might help me learn PSE faster, pretty please pass along that info!

Here are a few pictures I have been playing with. They aren't great, but it's a start.

Original/After some PSE magic

Original/After some PSE magic



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mrs. Wedding Coordinator

So one week before their wedding, my cousin and his bride to be asked me to coordinate their wedding. UM YES PLEASE! This is perfect for me. I am a control freak, perfectionist, organization nutjob...this is a no brainer. I accepted and anxiously got started.

She had 8 bridesmaids and he had 8 groomsmen. She didn't know (or care) how they came in so I worked freakishly on that. Got that all nailed down then I worked with the music to make sure we had enough time for everyone to get seated, etc. Needless to say I had a very detailed EXCEL sheet. I also worked up an "itinerary" for the wedding day for them. The rehearsal was so fun. Working out all the small details is like heaven for me. I realize this makes me sound like a LEGIT WHACKO! There were several small tasks that I had to work out the kinks in for them but I really enjoy that stuff.

The morning of the wedding, I went to the receptions place and set up all of her outside tables/chairs and decor. I also made and arranged all 25 flower arrangements to be placed on the tables inside. Again, control = happiness. Again, weird, I know!

I got to the church 45 minutes before start time (4:00) and they were still taking pictures...a few guests arrived 15 minutes later and they were still taking pictures. They were supposed to be finished at 3:00 according to the itinerary. Why were they running late? People were seeing the bride before she walked down the aisle!! Oh you know, the groom was running LATE to the pictures because he played golf that morning. SLAP!

I wouldn't have made it without my sweet husband running around right before and after the wedding to make sure their was enough ice at the reception. He was a lifesaver!

After the wedding was over, I was supposed to rush to the reception to get everyone lined up to be announced. But no one was assigned to clean up the church and get all the stuff out of there, so I did that then rushed to the reception.

Everything went off without a hitch except one little thing... the brides brothers were supposed to pull a runner down the aisle before she walked down it, they forgot. NO BIGGIE. No one knew, no one noticed. Not even the bride (until I told her). Minor detail.

We had so much fun at the reception. They had a DJ and a guy that played the guitar during the DJ's breaks. Lots of dancing, laughing and fun!! But HOLY MOTHER it was HOT! I mean SO hot! They had tables inside and out but with ALM it was best that we were outside so she could run and play. So I was sweating like I can't even explain. My dress was soaked in areas I won't even tell you about.

Here are a few pictures from the night!



BEAUTIFUL bride


Me and my cousin (the groom)

Father/daughter dance

Husband and wife

Dancing family! SWEATY family!
  


Me and ALM breaking it down!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Co-hosting a luncheon

So my mom and I co-hosted a small bridesmaid luncheon for my cousin's soon to be bride. My mom and I both THOROUGHLY enjoy doing these kind of things so it was a lot of fun to plan and execute. There were only 10 people attending so we tried to personalize it and make it very intimate for the bride.

We held it at the Variosa Club (which is a women's club that has been around for a very long time in my small little home town). My mom is a member so we used the facility FO' FREE. It requires minimal decoration because it's pretty small and it's decorated some already, but we used flowers and other little details.

I made each girl individual menu's so they could choose whether they would like "Caesar" or "Italian" Salad and then "Lasagna" or "Chicken Alfredo." We had Italian bread on the table and we served cheesecake for dessert. It was a hit. SO GOOD. We used a crockpot lasagna recipe and YALL...oh my gosh...I don't even eat lasagna but it was amazing. I thought I would share the recipe: (I changed a few things)

Crockpot Lasagna
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped (I put mine in a food processor)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 12 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked firm
  • 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:


  1. Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in frypan.
  2. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and oregano.
  3. Cook long enough to get it warm.
  4. Spoon a layer of meat sauce onto the bottom of the slow cooker.
  5. Add a layer of cooked lasagna noodles (break to fit) and top with cheeses.
  6. Repeat with sauce, noodles and cheeses until all are used up.
  7. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.
Here are the pictures I took:

Champagne for the guests

The table

Place cards and individual menus

Flowers in the middle of the table


Middle of  the table

This runner was from my wedding. My mom made it.

I stole these berries from bushes outside for an extra touch of flare

Bride's chair


Me and the bride to be

Look who showed up after the luncheon

Mommy's girl

Grammy (my mom), ALM and me